Page:Yule Logs.djvu/424

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408
ON A MEXICAN RANCHE

"He is a very bad man," one of the vaqueros, who spoke a little English, put in. "I worked on the estate four years back, and he was the worst sort of a fellow. He has had a slave flogged to death more than once. A man pretty nearly put an end to him; he struck him one day in a fit of passion, and Lobe pulled out his knife and laid his shoulder open with the first blow, and would have killed him with the next had he not pulled out his pistol and shot him dead. It was a pity that Lobe bungled the first stroke. There was a rumour some months ago that our señorita was going to marry him; he and his father came over here, and Don Garcia took her down there. Caramba! I would have put my knife between his ribs, if I swung for it afterwards, rather than see a pretty young lady sacrificed to him."

"Right you are, Nunez," the cowboy who had first spoken said; "you may count me in; the señorita is a daisy, you bet, and if there is any talk of this marriage, I am with you in anything you may do to stop it."

Donna Isabella was indeed immensely popular among the men, and on the occasion of a round up, or of any assemblage of the herds, she would be sure to be there, with her attendant behind her, watching the proceedings with the greatest interest, and flushing with excitement over any deed of daring horsemanship. She had several times been out to the northern camp since it had been formed, and would stand by her horse, by the circle round the fire, asking questions as to the work, and chatting brightly with the men, all whom she knew by name, and before she rode away would be sure to produce from a basket a bottle or two of pulque, a quantity of fruit, or some other luxury.

"I am glad to tell you, Don Henry," the Mexican said one day a month after his conversation with Harry Denham, "that the matter I spoke to you of has passed off without trouble. I received an answer shortly after-